Thursday, January 15, 2015

Will Terror End Austerity?

Since the terror attacks last week, the French government has 1) discovered that its budget deficit for last year was smaller than it thought; 2) dispatched an aircraft carrier to the Middle East (President Hollande flew out to sea in order to see the ship off, in a move reminiscent of George Bush declaring victory in Iraq); 3) canceled scheduled troop reductions, a move necessitated by the deployment of tens of thousands of troops to patrol potential terrorist targets in France; 4) discussed a costly restructuring of its prisons, where radical Islamism has been breeding; 5) discussed costly new security measures in troubled suburbs; 6) promised, in response to the perception that many teachers were unprepared to deal with student reactions to the events, restoration of teacher training eliminated as an economy move under Sarkozy. The cost of these new measures is not clear, but suddenly it seems that austerity-related commitments to reduce spending and cut the deficit are not as binding as they were a week ago. Could this be the beginning of the unraveling of the European modus vivendi--one can't say consensus--regarding the failed theory of "expansionary contraction?" Will Angela Merkel, faced with the Islamophobic Pegida movement at home and unnerved by the events in France, finally admit that the imperative to act means that money must be spent, deficits tolerated, and societies stitched back together after the pummeling they have taken for the past 5 years?

10 comments:

Moor Larkin said...

Bombing our way to Prosperity seemed a popular WASP doctrine back in the 60's. I seem to recall it being described as the Military Industrial Complex. Way to go Dude!

PF said...

Ah, a future of military and security-state Keynesianism! I presume this could partially alleviate economic stagnation, if only from the demand that will be created and new compensation for consumers. But I'm not sure it will produce the sorts of public investments and public-private industrial restructuring that the large European economies need, nor the evolution in mentality that is fundamentally required of the ECB's monetary policy. There's also the question of whether new expenditures regarding security will simply crowd out other sorts of public spending, if governments remain tied to small short-term budget deficits and no bold efforts to pressure the hard-money negotiating posture of the ECB.

bernard said...

I am afraid that you have it wrong on 2). I had already seen on the news that Hollande would wish present his best wishes to the armies on the aircraft carrier prior to the attcks. As well, I had seen that the Charles-de-Gaulle was likely to sail to the middle-east quite soon (the mission may be changing somewhat, but I wouldn't know).

This detail aside, it seems clear that France must try and cut the snake's head, and that is clearly in the middle-east. Easier said than done of course. But we love peace and liberty so much that we are ready to defend them.

What is clear as well is that at some point other Europe members will either have to stop expecting France to do all the work for their security or stop lecturing us about our public finances. After all, if I recall well, Saudi Arabia footed the bill for the first gulf war as well as Japan.

Art Goldhammer said...

Bernard, France2 news last night had Hollande speaking to sailors on the carrier. Perhaps it's not at sea, and perhaps he didn't fly there. I can't verify those details. But he was on the ship. I saw him.

Vintage Maison said...

I thought it was a regular political ploy that when your leadership-popularity drops, start a war. Reminds me of a certain Mrs Thatcher and the Falklands.

bernard said...

Art,
I am not saying he did not go to the ship, I am saying that it was planned long before hand. He does so every year like every French President and I guess this year it was the turn of the navy.

Further, to be perfectly clear, allusions to how he might be emulating President Bush are deeply offending and only reflect your state of mind. The reaction of French authorities does not look remotely like the reaction of an American President who invaded Iraq, pretending there were weapons of mass destruction, and created torture chambers in Guantanamo and elsewhere.

bert said...

Nationalism is the same everywhere, but somehow one's own shit always smells sweeter than anyone else's.

You "love peace and liberty so much" that you call for military action in the Middle East. You bridle at comparisons with George Bush. I think you'd struggle to maintain both these poses anywhere outside a comment section.

Anonymous said...

Bert, I disagree: WMD's were made up, and Saddam posed no threat to the US (and had no relationship to the 9/11 pilots). Here, the threat is real, ISIS is real, they do pose a threat to France AND the West in general AND Muslims in particular. Fighting back someone who attacks you (including through your children) is not the same as attacking a random country.
Charlie Hebdo had 1 cover about terrorists in the past year, for 10 about the Pope and 10 about Hollande (in the march on Sunday a child had drawn on his Charlie sign, from such a cover I assume, Hollande looked like a donkey and was holding a carrot). Those were satirical cartoons that I didn't find funny; they were needlessly offensive and only occasionally smart. But if that were a criterion for execution, most of the newspapers' cartoonists would be dead right now (except Shulz and Gary Trudeau, I suppose). We live in a democracy and the paper had a right to exist, as I had a right not to buy it because I didn't like it. The cartoonists, the economist, the fact-checker, the police officers, the Jewish market customers - all were executed in cold blood for who they were and what they stood for, by people who were sent to deliver a hit, as if by the mob. That's not an imaginary threat. That's not pretend weapons. And while the American people showed consistent unity after 9/11, like the French during these past few days, our leadership proved quite deficient when we were advised to fight terrorism by shopping (I still remember that.. i was aghast). W wasn't the right man for those tough times and while I've had my doubts on Hollande, I think he's done a good job so far.
Oh, BTW, Bernard is right - the speech on the ship had long been planned.

bert said...

By the way, thinking about your plans on a practical level, has anyone linked the two brothers to ISIS? Their links were to the al Qaeda branch in Yemen, a different thing entirely.

As far as I'm aware, Coulibaly was the only one wagging a black flag.

bert said...

Art, I saw you got hit on this thread by a spammer. I happened to notice that in the course of removing his comments you deleted one of mine. I'm hoping this was inadvertent. If not, however, I'd be most grateful if you could clarify why.
My comment referred to a Chirac speech on the use of nuclear weapons against terrorist targets (http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/e805e2d4-88e6-11da-94a6-0000779e2340.html). Also, responding to Bernard upthread, I mentioned the Suez crisis (invasion of an Arab state on a bogus pretext) and the Algerian war (use of torture). The latter in particular has a great deal of current relevance, not only in the headlines but also in the broader culture. For example, repressed unease regarding Algeria was the background to an excellent recent movie - Haneke's "Caché".

I enjoy your commentary, and hope that when I turn up in your comment section my presence isn't unwelcome. You should of course feel free to tell me I'm mistaken about that and should keep my views to myself. If so, I'll leave you to your blogging and won't trouble you again.